The Most Eccentric Hotels in Nice 2024

Quirky hotels in Nice France for a stay you will never forget…

Hotel Negresco exterior

Le Negresco  Its elegant pink dome is the most emblematic of hotels in Nice, but inside, past the top-hat-and-tights-wearing doormen, the Negresco is an amusing mix of elegance and quirky kitsch, all lovingly curated by its eccentric owner, Jeanne Augier, who lived alone in the dome with her Sharpei and Yorkshire Terrier, until her death a few years ago at the ripe old age of 95.  Her will specified that the hotel is never to fall into corporate hands, so it is destined to remain independent and gloriously quirky into perpetuity, with proceeds going to animal charities.

It’s a 5-star hotel of contradictions: Priceless antiques are side-by-side with sometimes atrocious examples of modern art.  The best restaurant in town (the only Michelin two-starred restaurant in Nice) is next to a gold carousel-themed café, which, up until 2019, featured pink-painted horses that bobbed up and down while you ate.

Pop art sculpture by Niki Saint Phalle in the Hotel Negresco ballroomJust off the lobby, the magnificent open round ballroom features a glass ceiling designed by Gustave Eiffel and an enormous hand-cut Baccarat crystal chandelier made for a Russian Tsar, all complemented by …a giant pop-art sculpture of a large woman with a tiny head, spinning on a pedestal.

Most of the rooms have been renovated and updated, but some of the older rooms are still a cacophony of conflicting motifs and periods, with animal prints fighting the floral wallpaper to the death for dominance.  Some combine gorgeous antique plumbing fixtures… attached to ’50’s style glitter sinks and toilet seats.  And the hallways and landings are… African themed.  Of course.

Personal side note: The Negresco is where I spent the first night of my honeymoon, which was also my first night in France… and to say the least, it made quite an impression!

In short, Le Negresco is over-the-top and never boring.  I encourage you to pop in and see this one-of-a-kind wonder, but as the doormen strictly turn away all looky-loos, know that the “open sesame” is heading straight to their magnificent Hemingway-esque bar (a treat in itself) and ordering an overpriced drink, and voila, you’re now a client of the hotel and entitled to a wander.  A few things not to miss: The ballroom (obviously), the meeting room behind the concierge desk to see the giant original portrait of Louis XIV in ermine, high heels and tights (if it’s closed, ask the concierge if you can just peek in and see it); the art in the hallway leading to the restaurants), and be sure to visit the bathrooms.

Fresques at the Hotel WestminsterThe Westminster Hotel and Spa, Nice’s other pink seaside hotel is the oldest hotel on the Promenade; it opened in 1880 and is still owned by the great grandchildren of the original builder.  It took its name with permission from the British Royal Family, who wintered on the Cote d’Azur at the time.  This 4-star hotel is notable for its stunning sea view but also for its magnificent Hall of Florentine Fresques, painted in 1904 and just recently restored. For those whom the Negresco is just a liiittle too quirky, its stately neighbor Westminster is a good alternative, and less expensive to boot.   The Hotel Westminster also boasts the Best Spa in Nice.

The famous Ben room, #65, windsor Art Hotel Nice

The famous Ben room, #65

The Windsor Art Hotel  The choice of lobby art is the first clue that this 4-star establishment is not like the others, but check-in to one of their Artist Rooms and you will have no doubt.  Since 1989 the owners have given one artist a year carte blanche to transform one room into an oeuvre d’art.  Of their 57 rooms, half are extravagant kitschy fresques and the other half are unique artistic expressions, as are the halls, stairs and even elevators.  Choose to sleep in a golden cube, in a cartoon adventure, in a travel sketch book, or a fantasy garden. The most popular room?  Ben’s #65, with every surface covered with his pithy scrawls, most starting with “I dreamed that…”  In addition, the hotel has one of the best secret gardens in Nice.

Hyatt Regency Palais de la Mediterranee pool with view on Nice Promenade des AnglaisThe Hyatt Regency Palais de la Mediterranee   This seaside 5-star hotel may be modern, but the façade is the 1929 original, and comes with an unsolved murder mystery attached:  the young hotel heiress Agnès Le Roux disappeared 30 years ago under very murky circumstances, and the police still dig up gardens in Nice from time to time, whenever they get a new tip.

The hotel has the most elegant pool terrace on the Riviera, set back just enough to make the cars on the Prom disappear, leaving only the blue sea framed with giant marble columns. The rooms are great, but unfortunately have no such sense-of-place: they could be in a ‘W’ Hotel anywhere in the world.

A 5-star is Born… Hotel Openings in 2024

Hotel du Couvent  The ancient Convent of the Visitation in the heart of Old Nice, which used to be a purposefully uncomfortable home for pious nuns, is being transformed into a chic 88-room ultra-luxury 5-star hotel.  Even though the nuns are long gone and the convent has been boarded up for decades, the locals fought tooth-and-nail to keep the posh posers out, fearing (correctly) that the moneyed marauders will forever alter the authenticity of the old town.  Construction continues for a planned 2024 opening.  1 rue Honoré Ugo, at the top of rue Rossetti.

Mama Shelter  One of the most playful, eccentric, and cutting edge hotel chains is about to land loudly in Nice.  Irreverent and innovative, Mama Shelter hotels blend comfort and playful surprise, and are a big bold feast for the senses. Opening in 2024, 60 rue Beaumont at the corner of boulevard de Riquier.

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Photo Credits: Negresco entry, Negresco Dome, Negresco Ballroom and Hotel Westminster Fresques all by Best of Nice.

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